Q: When I cut dovetails, I do the tails first and then transfer them with a marking knife to the pin board. But my knife often cuts into my tails. What am I doing wrong and how can I correct it? Bill Huyck, Sewanee, TN A: My guess is that you’re using a marking knife with a bevel on each face, like an X-Acto knife. If the blade is tilted too much, there’s nothing to guide it and it will cut into your tails. If it’s too vertical, the scribe line will be offset and inaccurate. Wrong Tilt Tilt your knife too much, and the point will grab the reference edge. Don’t tilt it, and the cutting edge will be too far from the reference piece. Correct Tilt For an accurate and controlled cut, put the bevel flat against the tail board. Tilt the knife so the bevel rides against the workpiece and guides the knife. It will scribe adjacent to the tail without cutting into it. Three Types of Knives DOUBLE-BEVEL It’s harder to get an accurate cut. SINGLE-BEVEL You need two; one for the right side and one for the left, but the flat back makes accuracy easy. SPEAR-POINT A flat back and two cutting edges make it versatile and accurate. Another option is to get a knife with a bevel on only one face, which makes it easier to hold the knife flush to the tails. A spear-point knife is a great single-bevel knife, because it can be quickly flipped for scribing to the right or left of a workpiece, like when you’re marking both sides of a tail. Single-Bevel is Spot On The flat back of a single-bevel knife allows you to press it firmly against the tail board. You get an accurate and controlled cut…
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